Summer Enrollment Considerations for International Students

March 18, 2024

SFU operates on a trimester system with three main academic terms in a calendar year, namely the Fall, Spring and Summer terms. In addition to the four-month Summer term, SFU also offers a two-month Intersession (May-June) and a two-month Summer session (July-August).

As the Summer term is fast approaching, we have received many inquiries related to enrollment in the Summer.

To help you make an informed decision about Summer enrollment, we encourage you to review the commonly asked questions below and take the proper actions, if applicable.


If I study part-time or take the Summer term off, will this impact my immigration status in Canada?

Your enrollment at SFU affects your ability to study, work, and stay in Canada.

What is a full-time course load?

Undergraduate students enrolled in a minimum of 9 units or other equivalent scenarios meet the SFU definition of full-time study in a given term. However, 15 units is generally considered a full course load for undergraduate students at SFU.

Graduate students enrolled in a per term fee program, enrolled in 6 or more units (per unit fee programs), or other equivalent scenarios meet the SFU definition of full-time study in a given term.


Your study permit requires you to actively pursue studies. This means you must remain enrolled and make reasonable and timely progress towards your program as per Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) rules. To be considered actively pursuing studies, you may be enrolled in a full-time or occasionally a part-time unit/credit load.


If you would like to work on and/or off campus, you are required to meet IRCC’s work eligibility criteria for study permit holders. This usually includes full-time study in the term you wish to work unless you meet the eligibility for a regularly scheduled break.


If one of your goals is to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) after completing your studies at SFU, you are required to maintain full-time student status in each academic session during your studies (with some exceptions) as per IRCC rules.

Undergraduate Students

From the immigration perspective, the Spring and Fall terms are considered academic sessions for SFU undergraduate students. If you are an undergraduate student and you choose not to enroll in a full-time course load in the Summer term, this will not impact your study permit or your post-graduation work permit eligibility. You may still be eligible to work in the Summer term if you meet the eligibility for a regularly scheduled break.

You can review the immigration-focused enrollment requirements for international students on our website.

Graduate Students

For immigration purposes the Spring, Summer and Fall term are considered academic sessions for SFU graduate students. If you are a graduate student, you are required by SFU to maintain continuous enrollment in every term (Fall, Spring and Summer) unless you have been granted a leave of absence for your program.

You can review the immigration-focused considerations for taking a leave from study on our website.


Do I have to get permission from SFU to take the Summer term off or study part-time in Summer?

Undergraduate Students

SFU does not have a formal process for undergraduate students to request leave and you do not need to request the University’s permission to take a term off from your studies or to study part-time.

Graduate Students

Graduate students are expected to maintain full-time, continuous enrollment. If you are a SFU graduate student and need to interrupt your studies, you are required to apply for a leave of absence. Please consult with your Graduate Program Assistant and/or your supervisor about taking a leave of absence.


What should I consider if I want to study part-time or take Summer off?

There are immigration and non-immigration considerations involved with studying part-time or taking a term off from study. While the above information is focused on immigration requirements, we also recommend that you consult with the relevant department/s at SFU and outside SFU to discuss potential implications of taking a part-time term or a term off.

Please review the table below for some important considerations to keep in mind if you would like to study part-time or take a term off in the Summer


Speak with SFU Academic Advising regarding course planning/availability and program requirements.

You may also want to take advantage of the Intersession and/or Summer session course offerings if you would like to spend some of the Summer term engaged in studies.

Speak with your SFU Supervisor and/or Graduate Program Assistant about taking a leave of absence and to discuss program planning.
FINANCIAL Check with SFU Financial Aid & Awards or your funding agency to see if studying part-time/taking Summer off will impact your funding (e.g. scholarship, awards, bursaries).

Contact to discuss possible impacts of part-time study and/or a leave of absence on your SFU funding arrangements. Visit the SFU website for more information.

Contact your funding agency to discuss impacts if receiving external funding.

LIVING ON CAMPUS Consult with SFU Residence and Housing to confirm your continued eligibility to live in Residence. Consult with SFU Residence and Housing to confirm your continued eligibility to live in Residence.

There may be additional considerations unrelated to immigration that can factor into your decision (e.g. personal travel plans, family, career development). Considering the above will help you to make an informed decision that will best support your personal goals and academic success at SFU.


If you have any questions relating to the enrollment requirements for international students, as they pertain to your study permit, work eligibility and/or your eligibility for a post-graduation work permit, please reach out to an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist for assistance.